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Colostrum or nipple discharge during pregnancy is a normal part of pregnancy. Most expecting mothers experience this leakage by the end of the first trimester or the beginning of the second trimester. Some women also experience a discharge when they hear a baby cry.
Colostrum is highly beneficial to newborn babies. This article will tell you all about colostrum, and its importance in the healthy development of an infant.
What Is Colostrum?
When you are 3 or 4 months into your pregnancy, your breast starts preparing a milk-like fluid, which is called colostrum. In fact, you can call it the first milk produced by your breasts during pregnancy. It starts leaking by the end of the first trimester of pregnancy.
What Does Colostrum Look Like?
At the beginning of your pregnancy, colostrum will appear thick, creamy, and yellowish in colour. As you approach childbirth, this fluid will turn white. Many women experience leakage of colostrum from the 1st week of the 2nd trimester, and the discharge increases towards the end of the pregnancy, as the body gets ready for delivery.
Colostrum is a special kind of milk that has numerous benefits for newborns. Some of these benefits are as follows:
- It is the first milk that should be fed to the baby after birth. It provides key nutrients in a concentrated form, and is enough for filling a newborn baby’s small stomach.
- It has laxative effects that help in the first bowel movement in a baby, and also prevents jaundice by expelling bilirubin from your baby’s body.
- It is referred to as ‘white blood’, as it provides large amounts of living cells like lymphocytes and macrophages, which makes the baby’s immune system strong.
- An infant’s intestines are very leaky. Colostrum seals the holes in the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier that prevents most foreign proteins from penetrating the gut. This could either come from the mother’s milk or formula milk. As a result, your baby is safe from any food allergy.
- It has a very high amount of the antibody called secretory immunoglobulin A. Hence, it is considered to be your baby’s first immunisation against infections.
- It is also supposed to have neuro-protective effects, which may help in preventing Alzheimer’s.
- As colostrum is high in cholesterol, it helps in the growth of your baby’s nervous system.
- It helps in the overall growth and development of your baby by providing nutrients like zinc, calcium, and Vitamins A, B6, B12 and K to your baby.
The above-mentioned benefits confirm that the importance of colostrum for the healthy development of a baby is unarguable.
How Long Does Colostrum Last After Childbirth?
Your breasts produce this essential nutrient for 3 to 4 days after childbirth. From the 5th day onwards, it is slowly replaced by breast milk, which will start to appear thinner and whiter, and the volume will increase. In very rare cases, the mother’s milk takes longer than a week to come in.
What If You Can’t Feed Colostrum to Your Newborn?
You should be able to feed colostrum to your newborn unless he has been kept away from you, which could be due to innumerable reasons. Whatever the case may be, speak to your doctor, and share your plan to feed your newborn. If the doctor deems it right, she will help you to feed your baby right after birth. The doctor may also help you with breastfeeding positions that will work out well in your scenario.
As a mother, you are sure to want to give the best to your baby. Do remember that childcare starts with feeding colostrum to your baby right after birth!
Also Read: Breast Milk Storage